signs & symbols

Bhakti Issa Urra
change warrior
Published in
4 min readMar 22, 2024


The latest release of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two fulfills my considerable fan girl dreams. The film lays bare what it takes for a precautious and vulnerable young heir uprooted from his privileged water logged life to become a mythic figure in the harsh desert environment of Frank Herbert’s famed Dune.

As Paul Atreides brings his enemies to their knees, shattering years of strangle hold — we cheer him on. The film adds more to the Bene Gesserit story through the women closest to Paul and provides even more insight into the sisterhood’s deep history and its goals.

behind the scenes & creative process — images capture the making of the movie

I so reverently wished I could have a Bene Gesserit cult of my own! The Bene Gesserit knack for survival and scheming is most brilliantly personified in Lady Jessica — just as swiftly absorbed into the Fremen fold who view her abilities as yet another sign of Paul’s godhead.

Javier Bardem is even more adorable as he portrays a completely charming and charismatic zealot in the Fremen leader Stilgar. A willing believer who eagerly perpetuates the planted Bene Gesserit fictitious myth — using their arc to add more context to Paul’s transformation into Muad’Dib.

past book cover art

This epic saga has challenged decades of its readers to understand just how profoundly bleak this tale has always been. Adapting a novel long considered unfilmable has proved a daunting prospect as well to previous storytelling filmmakers.

In exploring the story in rich visuals and color saturated show-and-tell direction, Denis Villeneuve delivers a fierce and forceful success in Dune: Part Two. Yes, he may have toned down Herbert’s fanatic Islamic tone and daunting challenge to imperialism.

movie poster, March 2024

In trying to avoid Herbert’s dated insensitivity, the new movie may have actively subdued most elements of Islam, the Middle East, and North Africa (MENA). In watering down the novel’s specificity, the movie may have stripped the novel of its particularity — treating religion, ecology, capitalism and colonialism as broad abstractions.

The breadth and scope of Frank Herbert’s 1965 Dune — a far-future saga of brutal interstellar feudal conflict — raises a lot of issues and parallels in our current affairs and world outlook now. Wicked wars, corrupt colonizers, opportunistic myth mongering, dwindling resources, control and abuse.

final movie trailer

A story that veers away from passionate idealism, truth and romance — towards political machinations, betrayals, zealotry, the weaponizing of fear and the looming threat of a devastating religious war. Same old sad sorry sordid sins carried over in perpetuity?

The film is still hugely entertaining. Even when Herbet’s religious references and multilayered allegory are largely relegated to the background or pushed to the periphery — Villeneuve’s second Dune film brilliantly exposes the dark subversive truths central to Frank Herbert’s operatic opus.

The Lady Jessica — as the new reverend mother to the Fremen

Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Greig Fraser once again immerse their audience in the world of Arrakis also called Dune. A breathtakingly expansive, desolate place of beauty and danger — beloved to its local Fremen and loathed by all outsiders.

Dune: Part Two unfolds on the planet to more thoughtfully explore and expose its story through its people. Their deep knowledge of the Arrakis landscape makes them unmatched warriors and the planet’s true custodians. In large-scale battles where untold numbers of Fremen lose their lives we come to understand how the desert is an extension of themselves.

red carpet day with my Bene Gesserit clan — thanks fellow fans for the foto!

They acknowledge the value and beauty in their arid and desolate planet — secure in their collective vision of its future of lush bounty. Each daily effort and every long-range goal builds toward this seemingly insurmountable outcome.

When they succeed, we cheer along with them — what a gift this new adaptation is to our starved world. Moments when Dune: Part Two feels uncomfortably timely make us hope more fervently for a future when we can all gather around in unity and preservation.

Originally published at



Bhakti Issa Urra
change warrior

canvassing consciousness, constantly curious — ever challenged & changed